Domestic Terrorists and Gun Control: It’s not a “mental health” issue

We have, once twice again in as many weeks, suffered the national tragedy and embarrassment of another two more mass murders by domestic terrorists. But, as per usual, because these specific individuals are white males, you will not hear them labeled as such in the public discourse or in the news media, by Congressional leaders or the President. However, you’ll hear a lot about “mental health” in the coming weeks as we once again gnash our collective teeth about—and ultimately fail to act on—gun control.

So I want to take a moment to share some real talk about the situation and dispel this pervasive myth about there being a “mental health” component to this issue: there isn’t.

(Fair Warning: There are a lot of fuckwords in this essay… for reasons. So, don’t put it on the reader if you’ve got small children around.)

Radicalisation

The first question, were either of these men to be of any ethnicity other than WASP, should be “where/how were they radicalised?” So, let’s ask that question anyway, because that’s the real issue here: radicalisation. These men were radicalised by a society so militarised and over-the-top in love with guns and “gun culture” that when faced with An Dilemma™, whatever the actual fuck it turns out to be in either case, they chose to act out like spoiled two year olds by smashing things up as badly as they could… which, in our case, includes finding, acquiring, and unloading a firearm in a public setting. Let that sink in, folks.

No, it’s not the video games… in a vacuum. And no, it’s not the blockbuster action films trying to recreate Rambo and Terminator’s success at the box-office… in a vacuum. It’s not television. It’s not toxic masculinity. It’s not the patriarchy. It’s not the constant recruiting ads and billboards or ever-present whisper-above-a-roar deference paid to “The Military” as an institution—but oddly never the military as individual, ya know, people—wherever you go. Nor is it the fact that we, as a society, glorify conflict but shame emotional maturity. IN A VACUUM! It’s all of these fucked up fucking things together, and so much more.

So what radicalised these WASPY terrorists? We did.

The Mother Fucking NRA

You didn’t think we were going to get very far before mentioning these asshats, did you?

What was once a riflemen’s hunting club has metamorphosed into the pulsing, bleeding, weeping sore on our nation’s chest. Corrupt, brutal, and politically driven, the NRA has no conscience, no ethics, and no remorse for the damage it’s done to our nation.

According to The Washington Post and public records, Boulder, CO passed an assault weapons ban in 2018, which would have prohibited the sale of the style of rifle used in the shooting on Monday. It was overturned by a judge ten days ago in a case brought by the NRA against the City of Boulder. The shooter purchased the rifle he used to murder innocent people in Boulder less than a week ago… Meaning that the NRA directly contributed to the enablement of this mass murder through their litigation. Let that sink in.

Now, the NRA makes a big stink about the Second Amendment, bolstered by Republicans who they’ve paid off to echo their talking points for years. But, let’s look at the Second Amendment. Let’s look at the Second Amendment really and use the lens of Constitutional Originalism, ye olde Saint Justice Antonin Scalia‘s modus operandi, to determine what the Framers intended with that passage and extrapolate as to whether or not what has befallen our nation fits within a legitimate interpretation of that intention. Here we go:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

constitution.congress.gov

Gun nuts love the second half of that sentence and absolutely adore leaving out the first half. But it bears repeating, the first half does: A WELL REGULATED MILITIA, BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE… Meaning, that in order for the nation to defend itself, a well prepared and armed security force must be available. The second half of the sentence, the part that was perverted by the Heller Decision, means that in order for that security force to be viable and available, it should be permissible for the people of the nation—which in this case actually means white men who own property and absolutely no one else—should be allowed and, in fact, cannot be barred from keeping and owning firearms so as to participate in the aforementioned well regulated security force (via conscription!).

See, thing is, that outside of Article One, Section Eight (Clause 12), there exists no legitimate constitutional authority for any body within the federal government to raise, keep, maintain, support, or otherwise fund a STANDING ARMY for the nation either in offensive postures or as defence. Sorry. And the authority granted to Congress by Article One, Section Eight, Clause 12 actually limits the funding to the period of two years. So… after that, dissolve your force or pass a continuing resolution until the end of the conflict. This is because, in the 1700s, the idea of a large, volunteer military such as that which we have today would be outrageous and absurd! Militaries are too expensive to train, maintain, and house for long, sustained periods of time. That’s why it’s never been done like this before, folks! EVER. Even Caesar’s armies returned to the fields they farmed or conquered between campaigns. Which is specifically why the Second Amendment is worded the way it is, because professional militaries take a long time to train up and arm, a militia force should be capable of assembly from the populace at all times for the purposes of national defence. That’s it. That’s the whole ballgame. Fuck Heller.

So, where am I going with this? Well… it’s simple, really: The Second Amendment doesn’t mean, now or historically, that you as a citizen should have the right to pump round after round from your Armalite AR-10 gas-powered semi-automatic carbine into whomever or whatever you feel like at the time, because you shouldn’t have one. A pistol, sure. A rifle, even, sure. A shotgun, yeah. A mother fucking arsenal of death machines, no. And no, NRA, an AR-10 or AR-15 is not, nor have they ever been, a “hunting rifle.” Don’t believe me? Well, let’s just take a look at what high velocity rounds do to meat, then… tell me if you can justify the damage to your dinner. Here’s a magazine article about the physics of ballistics of high velocity rounds. Here’s one from Field & Stream that literally decries the damage of high velocity rounds.

[…] when you get bullets traveling at 3000 fps and over—these days, way over—even the strongest and slowest-expanding of them makes a mess of whatever it hits unless the shot is long enough to let some of the velocity drain off. If you are a trophy hunter and don’t mind an acre or so of hamburger around the entrance hole, this is not an objection. But if you like wild meat and are disturbed by the waste of same, it is a problem.

David E. Petzal, Field & Stream
13 November 2009
We’ve known the physics involved here since WWII, guys. Faster bullets at medium-to-close range inflict massive, catastrophic damage. Here’s a journal article from 1948 discussing the topic. And another from 1977 discussing the evaluation of gunshot trauma. I’d love to find and link more scholarly resources, but… I can’t because the NRA has successfully lobbied since 1999 to block all kinds of gunshot, domestic violence, and mass shooting research. Gee… I wonder what happened in 1999? Weird.

Gun Control

No one is “coming to take your guns away.”

Though… Australia did that in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre and they haven’t suffered a devastating mass shooting since. Odd. But, that’s beside the point. No one is “coming to take your guns away.” Not the liberals, not the communists, not the socialists, not the socialist communist liberals, not the foreigners, not the Democrats, not even your mother. No one. Ya wanna know why? Because the Second fucking Amendment! The principle of the Second Amendment is solid. Let’s keep it.

I’m as far left as you can get. I even voted for Bernie in the primaries, twice! But I still like guns and shoot guns and don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t own a gun if I want to. So… ‘murika. But, there’s absolutely no rational justification for a 3000+ feet per second muzzle velocity capable long gun/ammo combination being on the open market. Zero. It would be easier to justify Honey Boo Boo merchandise being available to purchase online to an extraterrestrial than the AR-15, let’s be honest.

Why can’t we pass legislation that says you can’t purchase a magazine that holds 24, 36, 50+ rounds? Who’s hunting with that, NRA? I’ll tell you: absolutely no one. Why can’t we pass legislation that says you have to pass a comprehensive background check to purchase a firearm from any source? Why? Give me a solid, defensible reason. Tell me why we can’t pass legislation that says you can’t own a military-style rifle that can open up a hole in someone a half a metre in diameter at medium-to-close range, where most mass shootings take place?

Tell me why any of these things when over 90% of the voting public wants these things enacted.

Mental Health

The system is broken. Yeah, we know, right? But, it’s seriously off the rails. Starting with the racism of treating these mass murdering, terrorists differently just because they’re white and traveling through the minefield of the Second Amendment, we arrive at the Mental Health “debate.”

There’s not enough access, it’s too expensive, there’s pervasive social stigma, there’s no screening for individuals who need help, blah blah blah.

Let’s chew on the stigma bullshit. Does anyone honestly think that blaming people with mental health issues for every mass shooting committed by a white dude in the United States is a good way to reduce social stigma on mental health issues? Let’s be real. As someone with mental health challenges, I personally find it pretty offensive that the knee-jerk reaction to every mass shooting is to say that “a background check would have caught this psycho.” First off, in most cases, no, it wouldn’t have. Secondly, sociopaths are extremely rare. Thirdly, medical records are protected information…?

While I agree that there isn’t enough access to mental health resources, it is too expensive, and there is pervasive social stigma against getting help, none of these things are creating mass murdering fuckheads.

So What Do We Do?

Let’s start with common sense gun control legislation and policing reform, let’s move on to political reforms that tone down the fucking rhetoric and aim to achieve functional government again, let’s try to level the playing field so that everyone has a chance to succeed and thrive together instead of pulling the rug out from under people when they’re down? Just some ideas… because, honestly, I don’t fucking know what to do short of the Australia route.

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